Nestled on the appealing location by the foreshore of the River of The Kings, the grand dame went through stages of refurbishment and rooms upgraded trumping the past by bringing a new look for a river side staycation retreat yet still retaining a certain charm by delivering a refreshed heritage and hospitality that inspires.
Being one of Anantara signature properties in Thailand, the Minor Group has created a plethora of luxury hotels throughout Thailand and beyond, but the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort set the scene for resort luxury many years ago and while the property has not completely kept up with the times, some updates have taken place.
Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort is one of the pioneers who set foot along the Chao Phraya River that has a unique location away from the more congested area around the Sathorn pier as well as complimentary scheduled shuttle boat service to the Icon Siam prestige shopping mall just a few minutes away. Across the river also sees the iconic Asiatique The Riverfront open-air market that offers large scale of shopping, dining and entertainment that had been transformed from a former docks of the East Asiatic Company.
The intricate workmanship of the architecture design is inspired by the ancient Thai motifs that can be seen in the curvy high traditional and sophisticated multi-layered roof framing system with the sharp top and sloped eaves that helps to keep the indoor air cooler in this tropical climate as well as easily drifting to the water during the rainy season.
Multiples of traditional Thai artworks, decorative ornaments and local artefacts are strategically spaced throughout the entire complex for guests to marvel at the past and present of the royal Thai heritage and culture.
Our arrival was a little confusing and completely lacking in that warm welcome gesture we would have expected. Despite showing our confirmed reservation which didn’t seem to interest them but merely asked us for our passports and told us to wait across the lobby on a sofa without any explanation as to what was going to happen, without much smile nor eye contact and no welcome drink offered.
A 15-miute good wait being suspect strangers sitting at the corner of the lobby and eventually we ventured back over to the front desk to find out what was the wait and to which was given a rather blunt and aggressive reply: “you are in a queue”, not only that they did not identify our booking and at which point we prompted them to understand our booking and minutes later we were then escorted over to the Kasara Private Lounge for further check-in process. At this point there was a momentary problem of not locating our booking, but then seconds later they could and the gracious Thai hospitality kicked in and resolved the simple yet complicated check-in process, we were duly escorted to our room.
Spread across three low-rise buildings, the guest rooms and suites reflect simple yet elegant contemporary Thai style. Our recently refurbished 38sqm Junior River View Suite which exceeded our expectations has been re-designed to a fresh new look with a nod to its heritage together with a few newly added chic and modern touches.
All vividly contrasted with the bluish-green wood panelling, coffered ceiling with ceiling fan, a writing desk, dark wood flooring enlightened with a beige cushioned wooden sofa placed at the foot of the large king size bed, decorated with more Jim Thompson animal prints cushions creating a modern colonial feel to admire, well laid on top of a large greyish floral print carpet.
When there is a hit, there is a miss. The television reception has very poor quality resolution and mainly with disturbing distortion, the Housekeeping turn down service also was quite basic and seemed to lack that attention to detail for any Anantara brand we had previously experienced. The design of the socket for the kettle meant that it could only be boiled inside the cabinet seemed rather strange by having the steam being trapped within. There was a power tripped in one of the nights during our stay resulting in everything having to be rebooted and the safe malfunctioned and it took a very long time for someone to come and assist. However, the spacious bathroom has a large walk-in shower as well as a bathtub and double vanity in neutral colour tiling that comes along with delightful in house signature bathroom amenities, particularly the various selection of the sensual and aromatic soaps. To our dismay, the bathrobe seemed to be suffering from a serious case of ‘ageing’ and not offering that perceived Anantara level of luxury.
Think chandeliers hanging from many floors above cascading down the large interior courtyard space, colonial wooden shutters, water features with elephant sculptures and lily pads blooming, wall murals reflecting a traditional way of life from yesteryear from Thai Kings to rural idylls, traditional Thai ceramic urns and tropical flower displays that remind you of your Asian location that sets things apart from your home.
Barefoot and spending the entire day or a break after shopping by the resort pool side is rather a breath of fresh air away from the bustling Bangkok metropolis. Take a dip at the secluded large and deep recreation swimming pool and surround yourself by the lush green and the beautifully full bloomed frangipani tree with a light scent of its aromatic white (some red) flowers that delights your pool relaxation. Sip signature cocktails over the never ending sun lounges and for a more peace of mind relaxation.
With plentiful sun lounges available scattered around the pool deck for soaking up the tropical sun, be there early to secure your favorite spot as they will be occupied in a flash of your eyes particularly with families.
Kasara Private Lounge would possibly be an extension for your room amenities with some upgraded food and beverage options to enjoy as part of your stay if you have booked the club room with access. The residential feel lounge is partially screened off from the lobby that offers a haven of discreet luxury.
Premium selections of coffee and tea serves with light snacks throughout the operating hours together with an afternoon tea session and the evening becoming more popular to enjoy some of their signature cocktails, wines, spirits and beers while you can watch the world go by and take note of the sunset, as well as giving you a cool escape from the hot and humid weather on the elevated lobby level.
Despite the personalised butler service was offered for club floor guests, we found a lack of engagement on a number of occasions with staff not wanting to engage nor showing interest to know how our stay was going nor enquiring if we had any needs or wants to enhance our stay.
Breakfast at The Market is a very extensive buffet affair that impressed us in terms of the selection on offer. It provides a good spread of dishes, especially the Asian and Thai section which are pretty full on. The pastry standard is rather industrial and lacking of authentic flavour.
Service can be a bit haphazard in terms of small additional requests such as fruits selection, we are not asking for Durian that we can assure you that, but just passion fruits which wasn’t replenished when it was popularly consumed from the buffet counter. They were quite reluctant to offer by just telling you “No More” or counter offer you something else instead. But when we asked again a few minutes later with another server, the fruit magically turned up to our table as requested.
The seafood section was a highlight and seemed to be a hit offering lots of fresh catches of the day, don’t miss out the lobsters and wild river prawns served with various salivating dipping sauces. Not forgetting some sumptuous traditional Thai stations that serve up a storm of many local Thai flavours with speedy service as well as an option of a free-flow drinks package that is certainly value for money especially when you are prepared to fill up the room of your stomach with delight.
Despite entertainment being provided, the singer seemed not to be very tuneful with every single track she sang in her rather revealing dress code, but the weekend brunch is quite popular by the locals and some in house guests with quality food galore to tempt you and delight your palate. We fully immersed ourselves and were completely sated after indulging in a large array of dishes from the surf & turf together with tasty bites in between and well complemented by bubbly champagne.
While multiple food & beverage dining options are on offer in this resort, the Manohra River Dinner Cruise may sound touristy to some but in fact it is another must-experience highlight while staying in Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort.
Even if you have visited Bangkok before, your stay would not be replete without a river cruise and what better way to enjoy the sights of Bangkok than to be cosseted in a luxurious cruise boat with a well-crafted set menu and free flow of beverages for three hours, while you slowly float all the way to the historic palace district to the Rama IIX bridge and return and on the way marvel at standout architecture and brightly lit riverside residences and more.
There are a lot of river cruises that you may think are chintzy, but this one sets itself apart on a smaller scale and you are enjoying the evening air with all the luxuries you would expect from Anantara, from elegant table settings to personalised service, plus we were lucky being allocated the prime position of first table behind the boat captain, so an uninterrupted view of everything.
The boat architecture is also captivating in a colonial way, with a vaulted roof that creates a lofty space, so you do not feel claustrophobic, proper dining tables and cane armchairs to afford you a sense of luxury that many other cruises cannot offer.
The seven course set menu completely surprised us with superb food and service and some great flavours, which we didn’t think would reach such a heightened level of enjoyment, so a superb evening on the River of the Kings that is simply a must do!
No stay at an Anantara resort is complete without a trip to their signature spa and this resort has a dedicated spa centre in a separate building adjacent to the main lobby building with a meandering pebble path that leads to the spa reception.
Along the riverside is a thriving neighbourhood where daily markets add life and shopping for the locals and tourists alike. Bounded by historic structures and the city’s new riverside precinct structures, there are many places to eat and enjoy shopping along the riverfront foreshore and the strip is always buzzing with activity that makes the perfect base for a riverfront walk, or leisurely evening spent.
Stepping back in awe, Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort is truly a captivating resort with extensive grounds that allow you to find a space that suits your mood and cravings, whether it be poolside or a quiet courtyard inside or outside.
Creature comforts are everywhere and age is but a number, which in this case means that while some areas could do with an update, the amenities beat many newer hotels and resorts and being built on a grand scale years ago quite literally means that you have the luxury of space! Our checkout also was not as smooth as we had hoped, but we managed to make a beeline for the airport without much ado and bid the “grand dame” of Anantara and the River of Kings goodbye.